Ideology is dying fast in Latin America
Both on the Right and the Left, voters are uniting around issues, as it should have been a long time ago.
Political parties are decaying at the fastest pace ever in the history of Latin American politics, and so are their ideologies. Smily political talking heads are no longer influential when it comes to driving the vote. In fact, the more politics and politicians are associated to old, worn out ideologies, the less trusted they are.
The abandonment of ideology together with the failure to deliver by prominent Latin American ‘leaders’ finally opened the eyes of the masses who previously thought that a last name or a careers of three decades equaled meaningful change.
Venezuela, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and México are some examples where traditional political parties and their leaders were uprooted by voters who chose new, fresh faces.
Unfortunately, new faces do not necessarily mean new ideas or better outcomes for voters, but politics in Latin America has turned 360 degrees, from being mostly Left, to moving almost completely Right.
Voters have less and less to consider the world around them and base their behavior on the immediate environment in which they live their experiences on a daily basis.
They understand that there are no black and white explanations for Latin America; that the electoral transformations are not simply about the defeat of the Left or the advent of the Right.
The most significant revelation of a survey conducted with over 20,000 individuals around the continent shows that people maintain that there is no transformation of the dominant ideology, but rather a citizen’s distancing from ideologies.
There is a growing indifference with the type of government, fewer people are on the scale between Left and Right, which produces higher levels of pragmatism in the old ideologies; often seeking permanence in power beyond the principles.
This is one of the challenges facing both the Latin American Right and Left.
In generalm citizens still prefer democracies to dictatorships, open societies to closed ones, as long as the former improves their daily problems. If not, a part of them would be willing to sacrifice chunks of these democracies in exchange for economic prosperity.
This instrumental version of democratic systems is emphasized with great force in something called the Latinobarometer, which speaks of what is labeled as “diabetic democracies”.
Those places are nations where the official form of government is usually a powerful Federal government or a democratic Republic. All forms of democracy, according to the Latinobarometer, are in decline; either because a socialist regime installed itself in or because an extreme Right-wing government took over via a traditional voting process.
The main conclusion of the most recent observation of democratic nations in Latin America is that there is a growing dissociation between the world of economics and that of politics
That disconnection can help to interpret the profound changes that are taking place in some of these countries in recent times.
Democracy and growth do not go in the same direction, which reminds some dark periods of history in the world.
It is not what we are observing a reaction, the pause that occurs when there are great turbulences, but the survey shows a systematic decline in the quality of democracy -which is reflected in a systematic decline in citizen support and satisfaction.
At the same time there are advances in economic indicators, such as, a lower number of households with difficulties to hold on to their paychecks up until the end of the month.
It is a diabetic democracy, with a slow and gradual decline of multiple indicators according to the country and the moment, which allows in some way to ignore them as a social phenomenon.
However, viewed together, these indicators reveal the systematic and growing deterioration of the democracies of the region.
For the fifth consecutive year, support for democracy is decreasing. The latest numbers saw an 8% decline among those surveyed.
Only 5% of the people questioned about the state of democracy in the continent think that there is full democracy; 27%, that there are small problems; 45%, that there are big problems, and 12%, that what really exists cannot be called democracy.
On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not democracy and 10 is totally democratic, the average for the region was 5.4. That number also falls for the fifth consecutive year from a maximum of 6.7.
There is a growing perception that governments manage the countries for the benefit of the few, and that the Executives do not defend the interests of the majority.
A total of 75% of people responded that their governments, regardless of their ideology, work for the elites, while less than a quarter still believes that bureaucracies still do significant work for the majority of the population.